Can you imagine being in a business where, no matter how irrational, conflicted and demanding the client, you had to serve them? In other words, can you imagine being a politician?
Much is written about "firing a client, " including if, when and how to do it. An Inc. Business Owners Council member, Tim Askew, recently wrote about the subject on his blog, "Making Rain".
But at least most of us have the choice. When you're a local legislator, a congressman or the President, you get the constituency for the geography you represent. You can't fire voters.
That's why I'm left somewhat shaken by the recent election. I'm a patriotic sort. I've met a number of politicians and I generally find them to be devoted to public service and compassionate towards those whose voices are heard the least.
Yet the voters, according to all the polls and analysis, are giving their politicians mixed messages and sending them to office doomed to fail. They want a growing economy, more jobs and a stronger social safety net. On the other hand, they want lower taxes and less government spending and generally less meddling in our business.
Imagine you were in the food business and a client asked you for a great big piece of cheesecake that should taste heavenly but have no calories. Oh, and by the way, please send it compliments of the chef. How would you respond?
In many ways, this is what our politicians face today. What can they do? They can't switch their constituencies for a more rational one. They can't tell the voters they're wrong. They do what many great entrepreneurs do--they jump into the vacuum and do what they have to to get the job, telling themselves that they'll figure it out later. Who amongst us hasn't done the same thing when running our own businesses?
So how about a little sympathy for our politicians, please.
LEWIS SCHIFF is the executive director of the Inc. Business Owners Council. His latest book is Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons From the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons.
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